Meet Pusser’s Rum Bartender on Deck Ram Udwin
Ram Udwin of Boy Drinks World cocktail products.
I grew up in Encinitas, California, spending my free time skate boarding, surfing and helping my mom with her catering business. As an adult, creating unique flavors and a laid-back, welcoming cocktail experience behind the bar feels like a natural extension of growing up as a beach town kid splitting time between the waves and the kitchen. In addition to working as a bartender, booze lecturer, and sometimes rum judge today, I am the founder and owner of Boy Drinks World cocktail products, producing fine cocktail bitters, tinctures, and other awesome things. When I’m not slinging Tiki drinks by the pool, I pop up at festivals across the country and in print media like San Diego Magazine, Locale Magazine, and Tiki Magazine. And you can always find me (and the whole line of great BDW products!) at BoyDrinksWorld.com.
My first opportunity to be a guest Rum Judge during the 2013 Miami Rum Festival was pretty special, as it exposed me to rum on a whole new level, and I believe the work the Miami Rum Festival does to educate people on rum through their annual judging contributes hugely to the rum industry. Overall, though, I would say that the last two years of organizing the Bartender’s Battle at Tiki Oasis from concept to execution was probably my biggest accomplishment for the rum industry. Tiki Oasis is the world’s largest, longest-running Tiki festival, and the Bartender’s Battle is a great way to create and develop a community of rum drinkers by showcasing complex rum drinks in a fun and engaging way.
What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
I had always enjoyed rum, but I really turned a corner when I met Robert Burr, Jr., at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012. Robert, who runs the Miami Rum Festival with his family, was kind enough to open my eyes to the fascinating and tasty world of rum in New Orleans and later that year at Tiki Oasis. It felt like we were palling around all summer drinking rum and making rum cocktails, and I’ve never lost my love or enthusiasm for great rums since.
What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the spirits industry?
I love rum! I love how different each one can taste, how every variety can transport you with just a sip, how versatile (but underappreciated!) it is in cocktails. But most of all I love the rum family. Never have I felt more welcome or embraced by a group of strangers before, and as a bonus, they are almost always carrying rum!
Favorite Drink & Recipe?
I have to admit that I am a cocktail omnivore – I love it all! But my go-to drink for the last several years is a Rum Old Fashioned. The simplicity of the drink is ideal to showcase the complexity of a great aged rum; just a little raw sugar syrup and passion fruit bitters to enhance the floral and molasses notes in the spirit.
Rum Old Fashioned:
2 oz Fine aged rum (like Pusser’s 15 year)
1 tsp Demerara syrup (1 part raw sugar to 1 part water)
1 ml Boy Drinks World Passion Fruit Bitters
Stir with ice and serve on the rocks garnished with an orange peel
Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
I believe rum will be the next big thing. With so many varieties and expressions, it truly offers something for every drinker. Bourbon and vodka had their booms, but I think people are ready for the rum. Maybe I just believe this because I am selfish and I want easier access to all those amazing rums that I can’t find in San Diego yet!
Who are some of your mentors and how have they helped you?
I really learn a lot from visiting other bartenders and spirits makers, but on the short list of people I credit with being hugely influential to me is Jason Wilson, whose book Boozehound set me on the path to a deeper appreciation of spirits and cocktail history. Second is Robert Burr, Jr., because he opened my mind to rum and the awesomeness of all things Tiki. But the biggest influence in my life is my incredibly cool wife, Deanna, who is a powerhouse when it comes to her knowledge of spirits, and offers endless encouragement, loving support and sage-like wisdom. She also bought me that first copy of Boozehoundand many more equally dangerous cocktail books after that.
What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 months?
I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have already done so many cool boozy bucket list items, from becoming a regular speaker at cocktail events to organizing my own Tiki Bartender Battle and launching my own line of bitters. However, travel is one of my greatest joys and gives great opportunities to expand one’s perspective (both in cocktails and in life), and this October, I will be knocking some Caribbean rum distilleries off of my bucket list with a trip to Barbados. Around that, I will be fitting in our second annual Tiki Bartender’s Battle at Tiki Oasis 2016 and hopefully showcasing my talents by getting the opportunity to design and implement a complete craft cocktail bar program.
Any last words?
Truth be told, last words are a challenge since it’s hard to shut me up when I’m talking about bitters or rum! But now that you mention it, The Last Word is a fantastic drink, so I’ll have one if you’re offering! It’s a gin-based cocktail, but substitute that gin for an over-proof rum like Pusser’s Gunpowder Strength to make a great Tiki cocktail we like to call The Last Breath.
How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?
You can find me at boydrinksworld.com, @boydrinksworld on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.com/BoyDrinksWorld/